The Baltic city of Tallinn, Estonia boasts beautiful architecture, cobble stone streets, and a vibrant nightlife that makes it a popular spot for Scandinavian tourists. It has a Depeche Mode-themed bar and a KGB museum, but word is getting out that one of its finest attractions is an indie folk quartet called Ewert and the Two Dragons.
With a willfully innocent spirit, their 2011 sophomore album Good Man Down brings new life to the classic love song. Singer Ewert Sundja, guitarist Erki Pärnoja and drummer Kristjan Kallas, (the two dragons?) with more recently joined bassist Ivo Etti, added a few new stories to the crowded Book of Love Songs with that release, but drew deeply from the book as well. The title track is a very recognizable portrait of doomed modern love — but it has the plaintive melancholy of a medieval romance.
The break-out single “(In the End) There is Only Love” is more upbeat and modern but no less poignant and warm blooded. The band’s elegant simplicity in songwriting and expression is a welcome digression from the banjos ‘n’ broken hearts scene ruled by Mumford and Sons, where tortured, world-weary posturing has been the fashion of late.
Their tunes could find a hearty welcome anywhere, but it’s at home in Estonia and the Baltic region where Ewert and his Dragons are being hailed as young indie lords. The Latvian site Delfi dubbed them “the crown jewel of the Estonian music” while Finnish music magazine Rumba said they were the best act at Latvia’s Positivus festival — which means the writer liked them better than Muse. Not only are they critical darlings, but Good Man Down was one of the biggest selling albums in Estonia in 2011.
Since the album’s April release, the band’s fame has spread like a blaze, garnering them airplay from France to Brazil, and festival dates in Germany, Holland, and Austria. They might be Estonia’s jewel now, but it’s looking like Tallinn won’t be able to keep them all to itself forever.
Phot by Rasmus Jurkatam